Month Archives: November 2012

Food Network Used to Be My Friend

by Cathy Ruse

November 19, 2012

There is absolutely nothing on television that is both appropriate for our little girls and interesting to their parents with one exception: Food Network. Cooking shows are our family tv. We love the cake wars, even our 4-year old enjoys Chopped, and the commercials dont make Daddy lunge for the changer while Mommy sings Youre a Grand Old Flag! in plena voce.

Until last night.

A Target commercial came on with a group of actors talking about going to a Christmas party. Then one young man said, with a pronounced gay lisp, that he hoped another man was coming to the party because, Hes HOT! Followed by a very lilting, What-EVERRRRRRRR!

This really makes me mad. I Googled the commercial to see if it made anybody else mad too, and found this surprise: a homosexual blogger upset that Target was using such an embarrassing…f—-t stereotype.

So just cut it out, Target. And cut it off, Food Network. Neither of you are making any friends with this nonsense.

(True) Opportunity and Election 2012

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 16, 2012

Here is one of the most simple yet compelling sentences yet written about election 2012: The overall picture from the last few election results is pretty equivocal, writes Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics, and is suggestive of substantial strengths and weaknesses for both parties.

That about says it ambivalence are us. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney did well among some segments of the population. Their stark differences and the relative close race between them indicate the serious philosophical divide that is emerging as the single strongest element of the current political narrative.

Yet perhaps amidst in the somewhat turgid churn of post-election beard-stroking there is one fact that is being undervalued. This year, President Obama received 62.6 million votes; Mitt Romney received 59.1 million. In total, including ballots for third-party candidates, about 123 million American voters came to the polls to vote for a president.

In 2008, that number was higher, substantially. About 131 million Americans voted either for John McCain or Barack Obama that year.

The math is simple and startling: In the neighborhood of eight million fewer Americans went to the voting booths than only four years before. Particularly striking is that the population has grown by more than nine million people (from 305 million to 314.6 million during that same time).

Millions who voted in 2008 stayed home, as did millions eligible to vote in 2012. Why?

Let me offer a rather plebian explanation for the variance in vote totals: The people stayed home because they found neither candidate compelling. Neither the President nor the Governor so captured their aspirations, imaginations, and hopes, so ignited within them a glimmer of confidence about his leadership and its potential for the country, that they made the time to cast a vote.

This is not a matter of superficial charisma, but of heartfelt belief. That millions of Americans sat this one out is, perhaps, a referendum on our countrymens apathy. It is also a demonstration that millions of our fellow citizens were sufficiently skeptical, or even cynical, about the two major candidates that they couldnt be bothered to vote.

This is a sad commentary on the inattention of many Americans to critical issues, on the lethargy of many Americans regarding their own future and the well-being of their children, and on the growing belief that politics is about personalities too distant and issues either too complex or too painful about which to make a choice for voting to matter.

What can conservative Christians say to such attitudes? In terms of political salvation, there will never be the comprehensive hope and change offered by Mr. Obama in 2008 without the reign of Christ on earth. Jesus shall reign, not anyone else.

The ennui of much of the electorate presents Christians with a great opportunity to talk about where true and eternal hope lies not in princes, politicians, or parties, but in the King of kings. This is not to suggest we should stop standing for life, liberty, and family in the public arena, but rather that as we reach out to disaffected voters, we should remember that their citizenship in heaven might be animated, at least in part, by their frustration with their citizenship on earth.

Conservatives are people who believe in opportunity. Lets not miss this one.

Yes, the Cold War Still Matters

by Chris Gacek

November 16, 2012

If you need to find a history book as a Christmas gift, I have a recommendation: M. Stanton Evans Stalins Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelts Government. On Thursday (11/15) the Heritage Foundation hosted a book event for Mr. Evans, one of the great figures in Twentieth Century conservative journalism in the United States. Born in 1934, Mr. Evans came of age during the fight to stop communist infiltration of the American government in the 1940s and 1950s. In his mid-twenties he became editor of the Indianapolis News. He has been a fixture on the Right since then.

I had never been to an event featuring Mr. Evans previously, so I didnt know what to expect. Well, I have to say that he is absolutely hilarious. Very, very funny. If you get a chance to watch the video via the link above you will get a real treat.

The book is very useful. It provides an excellent review of what we know of the communist penetration of the U.S. government during the Roosevelt Administration and the years that follow. In a sense the overview is broader than that it informs the reader about the modus operandi of Soviet and communist efforts to defeat the West. Mr. Evans has used the best, most modern sources, and the book has footnotes but not too many.

It is also worth noting that toward the end of his talk, Mr. Evans drew a parallel between the blindness that our government exhibited when facing Stalinist communism and our current density concerning the threat of Islamic jihadism. Who, Us Worry?

I recently visited General George Marshalls house out in Leesburg, VA, so I asked Mr. Evans what he thought of Marshall. Referring back to the lecture, he compared the great Marshall to Christopher Walkens character, Max Shreck, in Batman Returns. Youll have to watch the lecture to get his answer and the joke.

Better Bystanders or Moral Courage?

by Family Research Council

November 16, 2012

Bon Jovis 19-year-old daughter made the headlines Wednesday because of her hospitalization after overdosing on heroin at her upstate New York college. Stephanies incident serves as a public face for close to half of the nations full-time college students that abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month.

Where do these habits come from? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that regarding drinking, many students come to college with established drinking habits and the college environment simply exacerbates the problem.

Thomas Vander Ven, associate professor of sociology at Ohio University, author of Getting Wasted, (a book exploring the topic of college drinking) suggested in an interview that some of the why of college drinking can be contributed to

the structural position that these young people are in. Theyre 18- to 22-year-olds. Theyre away from the supervision of their parents, many of them for the first time, and thats an important time in life to search for identity. And for my informants alcohol was a vehicle for hooking up and meeting people and having romantic and sexual interactions. Its sort of a perfect storm to produce this high-risk behavior.

While prior drinking habits and the absence of parents certainly explains some of the motivation behind the college drinking and drug use, it cant be the whole story when we also have data from the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse that shows about 17 percent of American high school students are also drinking, smoking or using drugs. Where do the habits come from at that age?

Vander Ven suggests that the way to remediate the college drinking culture is to educate and train students to be better bystanders, because the bystanders will know when something is wrong. But if that is the best solution this author and professor can come up with, then the battle against college drinking is doomed to failure.

No amount of better bystanders will instill the necessary virtue into individuals that enables them to make confident decisions and stand up to any societal pressure. This is a kind of moral courage that comes from formation that happens, among other places, in the family.

Research from the Marriage and Religion Research Institute shows that while only 8 percent of youth who come from intact married families and attend church each week are likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana as a minor, this number increases to 18 percent among youth who do not live in an intact married family and never attend church. This effect holds into adulthood as well, for only 24.7 percent of adults in always intact marriages who attend religious services weekly drink too much alcohol, compared to 52.1 percent of adults who do not attend church and are not in an intact marriage.

While the life and formation of each person is far from formulaic, there is much to be said for the protective nature of the family, and the wisdom of Proverbs which admonishes that we Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Is Capitalism Over?

by Krystle Gabele

November 15, 2012

Elise Amyx at Values and Capitalism writes about how Christian hipsters are declaring the demise of capitalism. Perhaps, it would be good to know what a Christian hipster stands for and how is capitalism over?

According to Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, a Christian hipster is a young evangelical who strays from the typical stereotypes of the evangelicals of the 80s and 90s and prefers the progressive viewpoints, as well as intellectual Christianity. While most evangelicals prefer to help Republicans, the Christian hipster prefers Barack Obama.

Therefore, it should not surprise you that a Christian hipster might consider capitalism over.

Young Protestants today seem to be rebelling against the traditional Protestant work ethic because they associate it with a greedy, selfish, superficial version of the American Dream. Evangelical hipster culture implies that Christians should oppose capitalism and adopt pro-regulation, pro-environmentalism, pro-universal health care political positions to truly live a Christ-like life. (Source)

There is something wrong here. I am pretty certain that many Christian hipsters work hard. In fact, they might even embrace capitalism more than they think. Take for example, increased government regulations would squash freedom and innovation. This is surely something they might be against.

Whether or not they realize it, capitalism is all around them. After all, many of the products they use — whether it be Apple products or Starbucks coffee — began in a capitalist society. It was the free market and innovation that brought many of the modern conveniences they rely upon.

Whats Wrong With Generation Y And Why?

by Sharon Barrett

November 15, 2012

What is the matter with todays young people?

Its a question asked regularly by every generation of parents and authority figures. As we move further into the 21st century, however, the struggles and weaknesses of the younger generation are more pronounced than ever before.

As MARRI intern Lindsay Smith documents in her recent post, Belonging to the Exception, young adults of Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1995) are likely to have a lackadaisical attitude toward work and therefore to be unemployed and even unemployable. Although they boast technological savvy, members of this generation also display short attention spans and the inability to discern actions and consequences.

While the factors creating this generational fault line are complex, they start in the home. Lindsay Smith says,

[O]ur culture (sitcoms saturated with sex, personal credit cards, and adult privileges sans consequences) bears some responsibility for Gen Ys behavior, but the formation of these characteristics begins with a fractured family.

The decline of the married intact family is responsible for many changes in family life, national demographics, and the economy, as MARRI research explains in 162 Reasons to Marry. One of the biggest factors is the rise of rejection index scores to over 50% nationwide. Currently, more children grow up in families whose parents have rejected each other through divorce or breakup than grow up in intact families. While family belonging is associated with positive outcomes such as educational attainment and higher income, family rejection is associated with negative outcomes such as early sexual activity, unwed teen births, and abortion, as well as child poverty and future risk of divorce.

The national trend toward family rejection has affected Generation Y by removing the stability that children need to develop a work ethic and life skills. To some extent, the media and social networking have replaced family relationships and adult role models for this generation.

But family rejection has other, graver effects that are less well known. The Gen Why Project reports there are over 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States. Of these, Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets report that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and did not care (emphasis mine).

These youth have far less chance than the average Facebook-surfing, not-interested-in-working Gen Y member of finding employment or raising a stable family of their own someday. And family rejection not only of a marriage partner, but of a child is largely to blame.

From Gen Y to Gen Why, whats the matter with todays young people is that they need others to invest in their lives. The Gen Why Project offers a list of organizations that are working to end youth homelessness. A thirty-second internet search turns up faith-based groups across the country that minister to homeless youth (here, here, and here are some examples). Why wait? Lets get involved.

Hey Dennys, Please Call it the ObamaCare Surcharge

by Cathy Ruse

November 15, 2012

The Daily Mail Online is reporting that the owner of 40 Dennys restaurants in will add a 5% surcharge to customers bills in order to meet the costs he will be forced to incur under ObamaCare beginning in 2014. To pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant and unfortunately, most of our restaurants dont make $175,000 a year. I can’t afford it.

Were trying to get more restaurant operators rallied around the concept of adding a 5 percent surcharge to their bill to cover the costs of Obamacare as opposed to raising prices, he said.

Heck, why stop at restaurants? Lets see all businesses with full-time employees add an explicit ObamaCare Surcharge to customer bills. Theyre going to have to pass along the costs to consumers anyway. Why not be up-front with us?

The Cry of the Martyrs Webcast: Emmanuel Ogebe

by FRC Media Office

November 15, 2012

Yesterday, FRC, along with Voice of Martyrs, had a webcast on the threats to religious liberty around the world. “The Cry of the Martyrs: The Threat to Religious Liberty Around the World” featured many experts speaking on religious persecution and how to fight the attacks against religion.

Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian Christian attorney, spoke about the persecution in Nigeria and Boko Haram. Below is the video from the webcast.

Son of Thomas

by Robert Morrison

November 15, 2012

I met Jacob for coffee this week. He didnt look a day older than when I first met him as a University of Virginia undergraduate fourteen years ago. Jacob was then a sharp Washington intern and I enjoyed hearing his familys story of coming to America. Jacobs parents are Christians who left India to come here seeking a better life for their children.

Jacob and I were headed to a Capitol Hill briefing on the threat of sharia law to Americas freedoms. He has returned from a two-year stint in Defense Studies at a graduate school in India. He has made himself an expert in jihadist ideology and its global transmission through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

I was keenly interested in how this young American would react to living in the country of his parents. He said that when his class went to hear Sec. of State Hillary Clinton when she made an appearance in India, his classmates found her condescending and ill-informed.

Indian students of national defense are upset that Americans can be so naive. Why has America lined up behind Pakistan when the official motto of the Pakistani Army is “Faith, Piety, and Jihad in the Way of Allah” (“Iman, Taqwa, Jihad-fi-Sabilillah“)? Why is the U.S. showering billions in aid on the Pakistanis?

Well, the standard answer is that the Pakistanis have the nuclear bomb and we dont want to alienate them. But China and Russia also have nuclear weapons. So does India. We dont seem to feel it necessary to pay them off.

Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror, we explain. The Indians are too polite to laugh in our faces. Despite years of promises to the U.S., the ISI, Pakistan’s equivalent to the CIA, continues to permit terrorist training camps to be run in Pakistan. From those camps, jihadists are sent throughout the world, including the U.S. Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who attempted to bomb Times Square in 2010, was trained in one such location.

Surely, Pakistanis were helpful in tracking down Osama bin Laden, werent they? They let him lounge with his wives a mile outside the gates of their West Point for years. If they knew this, they were treacherous. If they did not know this, they were spectacularly incompetent. In either case, we are wasting our money.

It should be no mystery which case was true. A few weeks after our helos had lifted off, with the body of bin Laden wrapped to sleep with the sturgeons, the Pakistani regime arrested the man who helped us finger the mastermind of 9/11. So much for Pakistani friendship.

Jacob thinks we Americans could learn a lot from Indians. They have a lot more experience with jihad than we do. (Like a thousand years!)

Jacob and I move on to other topics. Hes a recent convert to Orthodox Christianity. Although it is not widely known in the West, Orthodox Christians strongly believe the Apostle Thomas traveled to India as a missionary as early as A.D. 52. There, he founded a church which has survived to this day. I tell him that I was brought to faith in Christ by reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the heroic Russian Orthodox writer, so I will always have a soft spot for our Orthodox brethren.

Also, I pointed out the important scene in the movie Luther. When young Martin is studying for his doctorate, his professor recites the Latin maxim: Extra ecclesia non salus est. Outside the [Roman Catholic] Church, there is no salvation. Immediately, Brother Martin objects: What about the Eastern Church? Even then, he recognized the kinship he had with Christians outside the communion of the Catholic Church. As a Lutheran, I could hardly fail to appreciate that scene. It may have been a pivotal moment in the Reformation.

I asked Jacob how he coped with the multitude of India’s languages. He explained that while he picked up some Hindi and Tamil from his classmates, they were eager to practice their English with him. It actually gave him an opening to discuss Christianity with them.

As the noted literary critic E.D. Hirsch wrote in Cultural Literacy, the only way you can understand English is to read the Bible. Thats because English contains hundreds of biblical allusionsthe widows mite, the extra mile, the good shepherd, the widow and the unjust judge, becoming a Jonah, the camel and the eye of the needle, just for starters. Hirsch was not a Christian, but he recognized the central role the Bible has played in the development of our English language.

One of the tragedies of the education establishment going even beyond the erroneous court rulings against Bible readings is that our national literacy has declined seriously since the 1960s. Hirsch was concerned about the disparate impact of this decline on minority students, in particular.

I mentioned to Jacob my greatest joy: My almost four-year old grandson has been attending a Lutheran pre-school. His first lesson was God made me. He is now memorizing Bible verses. Mine for him will be this: Gods Word Stands Forever.

My grandson is the only white child in his class. The rest of the school is comprised of immigrant and minority children. When you hear him recite the names of his playmates, you realize that America is changing. Yes, thank God, America is changing. In certain ways, she is becoming more deeply Christian. It is considered politically incorrect to state this, but the majority of America’s immigrants identify themselves as Christians and have enriched American culture through their unique contributions.

As we leave for our meeting, Jacob helps me with my tangled trench coat. Its a gracious gesture from the young to the old from this Son of Thomas. If we have the wit, and the faith, we will thank God for young Americans like Jacob.

Are Christians Relevant?

by Family Research Council

November 15, 2012

In a recent article in the Washington Times titled Evangelicals Struggle to Stay Relevant in Republican Politics the inevitable question following the recent elections was asked- do evangelicals need to change to be relevant? The simple answer is no. Christians will always be relevant because Christianity is true and the truth is always relevant. People in America, and particularly in the political realm, often forget history. Christianity started in the middle of a hostile, Roman-controlled Israel when its Founder was brutally executed on a cross. Christians were then persecuted, killed, maligned and had no political power. Then they turned the world upside down with their doctrine. They proceeded to spread the message of God who came to earth as a man, died to redeem all mankind to Himself, then rose again conquering death forever. Now you can find Christians in every corner of the globe and the Gospel message has not changed for it transcends all time and all culture and is always relevant.

It is a mistake if one thinks that evangelicals derive their relevance from their politics. The politics of a Christian are merely an outworking of the message of salvation in a sin-cursed world. All have sinned and the punishment for sin is death, Christ bore our sin in His death on the cross and by His resurrection we can live forever with Him. Our earthly leaders die and new ones rise and some of them bow to Jesus the King and some defy Him. Christians dont fear irrelevance nor do we fear even death. Christ has conquered death and He reigns and will one day return and make all things right. As a Christian I seek to influence the political process because I love my neighbor and know that following Gods standards will bring blessing on the nation and glory to God. If my fellow man decides to follow a path contrary to God I am not worried about my own relevance but about the terrible consequences of sin.

I believe evangelicals are very relevant politically to both parties. They have in recent years been much more in line with the Republican platform than the Democratic platform. The Democrats were not always the party of abortion and homosexual advocacy. The Democrats moved away from the principles that evangelicals hold and so evangelicals moved away from them. Evangelicals vote on principle and if neither party supports their principles they may feel inclined to sit out or to vote for a lesser known party. It is vital that the major parties appeal to the values of evangelicals because evangelical values such as natural marriage and a respect for all life are best for the country and because so many people ascribe to these beliefs as evidenced by the many conservative members of the House elected with evangelical support and by the fact that natural marriage was more popular than Mitt Romney in the four states that voted on it.

It is interesting that people wonder if Christians can stay relevant to the GOP. I wonder if the GOP can stay relevant to Christians. Men have tried to silence us, governments have tried to kill us, and cultures have tried to drown out our message. But we just keep moving forward and we often thrive in spite of persecution. What seems like defeat to those who oppose us is merely the mercy of God delaying His judgment while desiring that all would turn from sin to Him. Man can defy Gods law and ignore His created order but man will never change it. The Republican and Democratic Parties will fade away, and America will fade one day too. But Christianity, never. While Christians should strive to elect those that hold our values we should remember that salvation will never come from the GOP but only from Jesus.

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